Seferian-Jenkins Ready to Hit the Hardwood

Austin Seferian-Jenkins (K.Grinolds/Dawgman.com)

SEATTLE - As recently as last week, Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar told the media that UW tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins had not contacted him about joining the Hardwood Dawgs for the remainder of the season. That all changed after Seferian-Jenkins took some time to evaluate his situation at the conclusion of the football season.

"I just definitely needed to think about it, sit at home, think about the pros and cons," Seferian-Jenkins told the media Monday before his first basketball practice of the season. "I had to talk to my mom, my AAU coach, Coach Sark, Coach Romar and I was honestly just taking a week off and letting my mind rest. I just came to the conclusion about two days ago."

Seferian-Jenkins hasn't had your typical freshman year. It all started when he decided to graduate high school ahead of schedule and enroll at the University of Washington for spring quarter. Entering UW early allowed him to participate in spring practices. Whereas your average freshman takes a year to redshirt, acclimate to college, and mature physically, Seferian-Jenkins was already first on the depth chart and in line to take on the perils of a Pac-12 schedule by the first game of the season.

All he did in 2011 was haul in 36 receptions for 479 yards and six touchdowns while named as an All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention Player. After that kind of year, one would think even a great dual-sport athlete would be ready to take a break and enjoy the off-season, but not Seferian-Jenkins.

"I love basketball and I'm just a go-go type of person," he said. "I don't like just sitting around. I love the game, I love both football and basketball a lot and I want to be able to play both of them if I can and I have the chance to. I'm got to follow my dreams and play both."

Even if he doesn't enjoy the same success he had on the gridiron, Seferian-Jenkins says he'll be satisfied with helping the team in whatever way he can. "I can't predict the future and I'm not the type of guy to just sit there and not work hard," he added. "If I don't play ten minutes a game then I'm going to be the best practice player they have, there's no doubt about that – All American Practice player. I'm just excited for the opportunity."

University of Washington football fans may cringe at the idea of Seferian-Jenkins playing basketball – what if he gets hurt? "Why risk it?" Seferian-Jenkins asks the same question. "You can hurt yourself walking outside on the street. If I get hurt, I get hurt, but I'm not going to play like I've got to be careful. I'm going to go all out and whatever happens – happens. I play with no fear and no reservations."

During Monday's press conference, Romar noted that Tony Gonzalez, the sure-fire Hall of Fame tight end for the Atlanta Falcons gave a pronounced, physical lift to the Cal Bears basketball team when he was in college. Romar admitted that the Dawgs are not where they need to be in the physicality department and that the addition of Seferian-Jenkins may help the collective physical presence of the team.

Whether or not this move gives the basketball Dawgs an extra boost, only time will tell. But it may also impact the decision of high school All-American offensive lineman Zach Banner of Lakes High School. Banner currently has the Huskies listed in his final three with the Sooners of Oklahoma and USC. It is widely known that he would like to play both football and basketball in college, and Sarkisian's decision to let Seferian-Jenkins play basketball for the Huskies can only help their efforts in recruiting Banner.

If Sarkisian has promised Banner that he can play basketball as well as football - which we believe he has - Sarkisian now has a track record with Seferian-Jenkins. When asked if Seferian-Jenkins had to sell him on the decision, the frosh tight end said no.

"I didn't really have to sell it on him because he's an honest guy," he said of Sark. "He promised me when I committed to the University of Washington that I'd have the opportunity to play both so I didn't have to sell him on anything. He just gave me the pros and cons and (said) you have my blessings to do whatever you want to do."

While the Dawgs haven't had recent recruiting success with some of the top in-state players such as Keivarae Russell, Walker Williams, and the recent announcement of top player Josh Garnett heading out of state, the perception of the class would help immensely with a commitment from Banner. While Seferian-Jenkins made the decision to play basketball with the intentions of solely helping out the Hoop Dawgs, Sarkisian may come around and give him a bear hug come February 1st if Banner's letter of intent comes through on UW fax machine.

Speculation and recruiting aside, Seferian-Jenkins's pride, passion, and dedication to the University of Washington is far and away above anything one could ever expect. If he's earning meaningful minutes midway through the conference season and helping the Dawgs to another strong finish I don't think anyone would be surprised. He has Coach Sarkisian's complete backing.

"It takes a tremendous athlete to be able to play football and basketball at the Pac-12 level, and Austin certainly has that sort of ability," Sarkisian said. "It's a great opportunity and I fully support him."

Lost in all of this is that Seferian-Jenkins is only a true freshman and has at least two more years at the University of Washington to wreak havoc on opposing football and basketball teams before he makes a possible jump to the NFL. To stay in the present, Seferian-Jenkins will bring a physical mentality to the basketball Dawgs – something that they have been devoid of this year. A fourth straight trip to the Big Dance is in serious jeopardy after a mediocre start and Seferian-Jenkins may just be the lift that will get the Dawgs to yet another tournament.

Here's a very short video of Austin at shootaround Monday, just a couple of shots -

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